Last updated: 12/5/2013
Brookings, South Dakota
Street Address
925 11th Street
Brookings, SD 57007
Mailing Address
PO Box 601
Brookings, SD 57007
phone: 605-688-6226
fax: 605-688-6303
April - December
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday1 PM - 5 PM
January - March
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Free. Donations Accepted and Appreciated
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Michelle Glanzer, Manager of Museum Store
phone: 605-688-4583
Carrie Van Buren, Collections Curator/ Museum Educator/ Group Tours
phone: 605-688-4436
Dawn Stephens, Collections Curator/ Assistant Exhibits Preparator
phone: 605-688-5904
Jakob Etrheim, Part-Time Museum Aide/ Social Media Administrator
phone: 605-929-7695

The museum tells the story of South Dakota's vast and varied agricultural past and the determination it took to survive on the land. Visitors will leave understanding the important role of agriculture in South Dakota's past, present and future.

Our collections and exhibits depict technology, crops, and livestock. In addition the exhibits examine human experiences, institutions, and cultures that were shaped by the state's rural landscape and diverse environment. Our exhibits include tractors and farm equipment, an original 1882 homestead claim shack, and a recreated 1915 farmhouse.

Abundant historic photographs enhance the understanding of South Dakota's rural qualities. The Beckman Archive is a comprehensive collection of tractor and machinery manuals. The museum has an extensive photo and graphic archive in addition to the South Dakota history library. We are AAA recommended and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum also offers a variety of programs including book signings, exhibit openings, and lecture series. Special members events are scheduled

We are located on the South Dakota State University campus with our official GPS position being: 44 degrees 19.13 minutes North by 96 degrees 47.335 minutes West


The South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum is dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of objects that relate to South Dakota's agricultural history and rural heritage from 1860-1960.


The Museum is housed in the old Stock Judging Pavilion, built between 1918 and 1925. The Stock Judging Pavilion was placed on the National Register of Historic Buildings in 1978. Approximately 9,000 sq. ft. of exhibits and 500 sq. ft. of office space and gift shop occupy the main level of the museum. The basement area of the museum (4,875 sq. ft.) contains small artifact storage and office work space. To the north of the museum is an 11,000 sq. ft. pole barn completed in July 2005 to house the machinery and large artifact collections pieces. It also contains a small workshop. The museum occupies a second National Register Building, a rammed earth building. Rammed earth construction was an experimental construction technique being investigated by the Cooperative Extension Service in the 1930s. This 1,872 sq. ft. building houses another small workshop area.

The collection contains approximately 3,434 agricultural and mechanical tools and equipment, 1,406 items classified as building furnishings, personal and recreational items, 8,238 communications and documentary items that include maps, prints and agricultural business advertising. Two major portions of the collection include a 40,000 plus photograph collection featuring images of farming, ranching, small towns, 4-H, and Cooperative Extension Service; and approximately 72 cubic feet of machinery operator's manuals, parts, lists, and sales literature.

The South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum has been around, in one form or another, since the early years of the University. In 1884, Professor W. H. Orcutt was appointed Chairman of the museum at South Dakota Agricultural College. A photograph from the 1904 Bulletin shows the South Dakota Agricultural College Museum housed in what may be the top floor of the Extension Building. The collection at this time consisted of natural history items: taxidermy animal mounts, antlers, rocks and lithics (arrowheads, stone hammers, etc.)

Charles W. Pugsley, President of SDSC in 1929, appointed a museum committee and set forth points for its establishment. Not much developed during this time. Sometime between 1952 and 1957, Dr. John W. Headly was appointed chairman of the museum committee and the concern at that time was finding suitable space for the museum.

In October 1965, President Hilton M. Briggs asked Ralph E. Johnston to assume "the role of curator for a museum we really do not have." Mr. Johnston agreed to serve as curator with the condition that a University Museum Committee first be appointed. The committee that was appointed consisted of H. M. Briggs, Herold, Dennis Moe, Thompson, Pearson, Straw, George Phillips, and David Donor.

By December 20, 1966, the basement of Wenona Hall had been partially renovated to accommodate the museum. The Collection was moved in on December 29 and "just piled on the floor with no display tables or cases." The Museum Committee appointed by President Briggs met for the first time on December 30, 1966. In January 1967, a budget of $1,000 was made available to the museum and the first student help was hired January 31, 1967. The museum opened to the public for the first time in May 1967. The attendance from May 1967 to December 1969 was 140.

From 1966 to 1970 various displays were created in the South Dakota State College University Museum. Some of the early displays included: "First Agricultural Explorer" about N. E. Hansen Dickerson Display talked about SD pioneer life and included a pioneer kitchen, laundry, parlor hand tools, lighting and heating and dairy equipment, University Corner displayed pharmacy materials, Jackrabbits, diplomas, Lewis McLouth's desk, and other College/University memorabilia.

In 1969 Dr. George and Mrs. Kate Weber made three separate gifts totaling $100,000 in ATT stock for development of exhibits at the Museum. In 1972, Henry DeLong, former chair of the Agricultural Engineering Department was asked to replace Ralph Johnston. Hiring Mr. DeLong brought a strong agricultural interest to the museum that formerly wasn't there. In 1973, Governor Kneip reorganized stated government and created the Office of Cultural Preservation. The duty of the Office of Cultural Preservation was to manage university museums across the state.

1976 was a busy year for the Museum. The museum's budget grew from $1,000 from SDSU to $10,000 from the Office of Cultural Preservation. John Schmalenberger was hired as the first Museum Director (he left in early 1977) and the advisory committee recommended a name change to Agricultural Heritage Museum to better reflect agriculture as a science and humanity. In the same year, Ralph Johnston secured the old Stock Judging Pavilion from President Briggs for development into the Agricultural Heritage Museum. The pavilion was leased to the Office of Cultural Preservation by SDSU and it was agreed that the museum would bring the pavilion up to standards and the university would maintain those standards.

Throughout the 1980's exhibit work has progressed at a steady pace. In 1982 the Case steam engine was restored and placed in the Stock Pavilion's show ring (Center Gallery). The museum has hosted both traveling national exhibitions such as Barn Again!, Farm Life, Between Fences. The museum developed major in-house exhibits during the 1980-early 1990s including "College Hill" celebrating SDSU 100th anniversary, "The Next Greatest Thing: Rural Electrification in SD", and "The Way They Saw Us" celebrating the State's centennial, and "As Soon as the Chores Are Done" a hand on farm chores exhibit. The museum has also hosted major Christmas exhibitions and programming for many years.

As the museum grew so did the programming. The museum gift shop was established in 1985 and has raised funds to further develop the museum and to manage the membership program. The museum developed a stable school tour program that follows state education standards and has offered internships to SDSU students and students from other institutions for nearly 26 years. The Brown Bag lecture series ran for 20 years and the NE Hansen Lecture Series ran for 9 years. The museum has an active and stable program of hiring and training students and volunteers. In the 1990s, the museum established a website In January 1995, Governor Janklow's Executive Order No. 3 transferred the Agricultural Heritage Museum back to South Dakota State University.

In 2005, after 28 years of service, John Awald retired as Museum Director. Mac R. Harris was hired to replace Awald in January 2006. Mac Harris retired in 2011. Exhibits Curator William Lee retired in 2012. Bill was hired full time in 1988. Prior to that, he had done some contract work (starting in 1982) for the museum. Current employees include Carrie Van Buren who has worked for the Ag Museum since August of 1985. She was hired as a full time staff to fill the role of collections curator and museum educator. Another current employee includes Michelle Glanzer, who started as a student in 1982 and became a full time employee in 1984. Finally, the last current employee is Dawn Stephen who has worked at the museum since about 2003. Since the retirement of Harris, the Ag Heritage Museum has been without a Director but has been led by Interim Director Dr. Barry Dunn, Dean of Agriculture and Biological Sciences College at SDSU.

Artifact Collections

Our collections and exhibits depict technology, crops, and livestock. On display within our museum, we have an original 1882 homestead claim shack, a recreated 1915 farmhouse, and a 1915 65 hp J.I. Case Steam Traction Engine as well as several other larger pieces of farm machinery and unknown South Dakota made products.

The collection contains approximately 3,434 agricultural and mechanical tools and equipment, 1,406 items classified as building furnishings, personal and recreational items, 8,238 communications and documentary items that include maps, prints and agricultural business advertising. Two major portions of the collection include a 40,000 plus photograph collection featuring images of farming, ranching, small towns, 4-H, and Cooperative Extension Service; and approximately 72 cubic feet of machinery operator's manuals, parts, lists, and sales literature.

Research Collections

The Eugene Beckman Archive is a collection of original sales brochures, operators manuals, parts lists and sales premiums. Items in the collection date from the 1880s through the early 1960s.

The late Eugene Beckman of Brookings, S.D. collected tractor and implement brochures and manuals. Beckman's original store, Beckman Hardware, was located in Glenham, S.D. where he sold his first John Deere tractor in 1925. Later he moved his business to Brookings, S.D. where he operated Eugene Beckman and Son John Deere until his death in 1968. In 1988 his son and grandson gave his extensive collection to the South Dakota State Agricultural Heritage Museum. It is comprised of approximately 1,500 manuals and brochures in addition to hundreds of agricultural books and catalogs.

The Eugene Beckman Archive is a research collection and individuals who are researching or restoring historic pieces of farm equipment should contact the museum with their research request. Photocopies of the original documents are available for a nominal fee. For detailed specific information about the availability of a certain piece of literature, write the museum. Please indicate the brand, model, year, and note specific part numbers or serial numbers when writing.

Additions to the collection are welcomed. Please contact us for information on donating to this important historical resource.

Educational Programs

Throughout the year, we have a variety of educational classes held at our museum and sometimes at no cost to the participant. Recent examples include Corn Key-Chain making, Victorian Christmas Ornament making, and Rag Doll making class. Also, we frequently hold Author talks and books signings of literature that we sell in our museum gift shop. Check out our Facebook page or Website for upcoming programs


We have an area that is great for parties or small gatherings. Call to make a reservation.


Our museum is located on and is under the governance of South Dakota State University.


Access: Staff Only

Appointment required: Yes


Museum Members of the State Agricultural Heritage Museum receive a Museum Newsletter 3 times a year. You may sign up for a free E-Newsletter on our website.


All building locations available to the public is handicapped accessible.

Wheelchair Accessible




The Museum Store offers a variety of quality merchandise reflecting the Museum's collection. The museum store carries a selection of South Dakota Made products. In addition we have items ranging from rose quartz jewelry and soy products to treats for your favorite Dakota Dog. We have a selection of reproduction greeting cards, note cards and posters. Our book selection includes South Dakota and regional books for both adult and children, antique agriculture and implement books, and a delicious collection of cookbooks. We have a assortment of children's toys, both whimsical & educational.

The Museum Store is the creator of the official SDSU Home for the Holidays Ornaments. We also offer a large selection of traditional glass ornaments. A variety of Meat Lab items are also now available at the museum store seven days a week. A complete listing of what we have on hand is on our Meat Lab Offerings page at our website.

Merchandise can be ordered simply by printing our order form and mailing your order or by phone or fax. The Store accepts payment by Discover, Visa, MasterCard, AMEX, personal check, money order, and SDSU HOBO Dough. Members of the State Agricultural Heritage Museum receive a 20% discount on all books and a 10% discount on all other Museum Store merchandise.

Gift Shop

Special Event Rental

Group Tours

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